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Texas, where schools hit kids instead of teaching accurate history

October 09, 2012|By Karin Klein
  • Jada Watt was paddled by her male assistant principal at Springtown High School in Texas after speaking disrespectfully to him.
Jada Watt was paddled by her male assistant principal at Springtown High… (John Mone / Associated Press )

An adult male forces a teenage girl to bend over and take a paddling on her buttocks, and nobody is calling the cops? No, because in this case it's at a Texas school and involves an administrator and a girl who cheated.

The mother in Springtown, Texas, complained -- as did another mother whose daughter spokeĀ  disrespectfully to the assistant principal, who then spanked her with a paddle -- saying that this was against school rules. Kids are only supposed to be hit by an authority figure of the same sex, they say. Men hit too hard, they say. Other than that, the paddling appears to have been OK with them.

At this point, the mothers are making even less sense than the school district. So if the man hits more gently, it's OK? If a woman hits harder, is that allowed? Why on earth do these people think it's OK for a person who is not a family member to lay a hand on their kids beyond a pat on the shoulder for encouragement?

In some states -- Florida, for example -- the schools don't even need parental permission.

It's hard to imagine how that's legally allowable. Parents have no choice but to send their children to school under compulsory education laws, and most of them cannot afford a private school. Which means that no matter what their beliefs, they have to consent to someone hitting their kids?

The Texas school district has now taken care to ensure that there will be no more complaints about cross-gender corporal punishment -- by changing the rules to allow it.

I'm not a personal fan of corporal punishment for kids, but this is also a matter for individual parents to decide, as long as a swat doesn't turn into an abusive situation. Sometimes the experts and their warnings get a little too far from the realities of parenting, but this Texas school district is so far away from the realities of good discipline that parents shouldn't be letting these people anywhere near their children.

Lack of hitting isn't the same thing as going soft on misbehavior. There are plenty of legitimate and more meaningful ways to punish cheating than to pull out wooden weapons: a zero on the exam or homework; a failing grade in the course; a note in the permanent record that goes off to colleges; school cleanup; detention with extra schoolwork to make certain that the student can get a good grade without cheating; a meeting with the parents.

But then, Texas' school board approved changes to textbooks that would place McCarthyism in a more positive light, downplay the World War II internment of Japanese Americans and other inaccurate modifications of history.

This is a state that certainly knows about cheating when it comes to cheating students of factual information. Come to think of it, paddles for adults aren't looking so bad at the moment.

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